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What a crock of scribble

I’m livid. i blog therefore i am

A few days ago I read something on my Aussie mate, Mrs Woog’s blog and it made my skin scrawl.

The story in The Sydney Morning Herald, was titled ‘The Rise of the Mummy Bloggers’. It was a superficial, once-over-lightly story. It focused on calling into question the ‘rise’ of the mummy bloggers in Australia. It had that sarky tone that suggested that the popularity of those blogging from ‘behind a wheel of a pram’ (how many prams do you know have steering wheels?), was ill deserved. It was an inflammatory piece, full of assumptions, and inaccuracies –  there’s only 300 mummy bloggers in Australia?  (WTF! Research people!)

But that wasn’t what got me. That was laughable criticism, the sort of snarky media commentary a jealous journalist might make about another successful writer – one who is actually making a living out of their talent. It used to happen all the time with journalists calling PRs sell-outs, words that were wonderfully amusing to recall when the journalist eventually tired of low pay and poor conditions and leapt to the dark-side.

Now the criticism has been levelled at bloggers. So what!

What got me was the viciousness in the comments on that article. In fact they were of such ferocity I wondered whether the majority of them were actually written by bitter and twisted journos. Comments such as –

“this is so tragic. Poor kids so exploited”

and

“There are so many unemployed mothers in Sydney, here’s an idea get a real job”. Other comments called mummy bloggers ‘morons’, ‘unintelligent’, ‘cliquey’ and ‘intellectual’. (I know strange isn’t it that even the criticisms aren’t consistent!)

It’s quite depressing to read really, not just because I am a mum who blogs (I don’t really see myself as a mummy blogger) but because the vitriol is so at odds with the many wonderful blog posts that are choking my Facebook wall. This week alone I have read, raw writing from women who aren’t blogging to get into KFC for free. They are putting into words their pain, and the pain of the community around them.

Forget for a moment they are women.

Forget for a moment they are mums.

Remember, just for a moment, that they are writers using the most hard-hitting media available to them. Where once they would have told the story around the fire whilst the men were out chasing bison, now they blog. And it is good.

As very good as free speech can be.

First up on my blog list, is the heart wrenching story of Wanderlust who is on the run from her ex-husband who has threatened to kill her and her children. Oh, and he was found to have 18,000 incidents of child pornography on his home computer. Yeah, he’s still walking the streets, he’s not yet in prison. And Wanderlust? She’s in hiding. Her story is not some b.s. about cupcakes or cookies.

Her story is unbelievable, but it is indeed true, and raw and chilling. And beautifully written.

Second there’s the blog of my Australian expat friend Kirsty, who is currently living in Doha, Qatar. She blogs about her life with her four little travellers and the highs and lows of the expat life. This week her blog became a focal point for the outpouring of grief surrounding the tragic fire at the Villagio mall in Doha, which killed 19 people, many of them children. Kirsty’s story is told simply. She says in her blog that she is ‘wordless’, but actually her words are searingly powerful.

I cried when I read them. And I cried some more when I read the comments.

This woman, like so many others,  is pulling people together by blogging her story. It may not be the traditional analysis and objective (yet how objective really is it in this PR age?) story of journalism and his-story, but it is still valid.

It is real.

My third example is another Australian ‘mummy blogger’, who dared to bare. Adelaide mum Bianca from Bigwords’ blog was incensed by the pressure on women to immediately regain their pre-pregnancy weight and so she blogged about her Baby Belly. The reaction was incredible. There are over 136 comments and 46 likes on that post alone and the post lead to radio and television interviews.

You could say she hit a nerve. This is not the idle mutterings of a prima donna of the mummy underclass.

Years ago women writers were derided for doing something as unseemly as scratching words on paper. They were supposed to focus on matters of domesticity and the hearth. Strong opinions were discouraged. Women writers were chastised and rebuked as scribblers with dubious morals.

Jane Austen says it perfectly in Persuasion (1818), when her character, Anne Elliot says, “Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands.”

Amazing, isn’t it that things haven’t changed so much since Jane Austen’s day!

What a shame the SMH writer and those who deigned to vent their vitriol all over the comments’ pane didn’t stop to reflect that maybe, just maybe, when it comes down to a free press, bloggers such as these women are where it is at.

I for one hope, these bloggers and the many thousands like them around the world, never, ever shut up.

 

Image: Flickr CC
http://www.flickr.com/photos/alamodestuff/

 

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  • http://www.amothersramblings.com PippaD

    Unpleasantly this happens to all new trends and it shouldn’t. We have to stand up and say this isn’t right but then we’ll just get shouted down for being mouthy and forward and pushy etc. I have some success with my blog and am known in the local area, this has meant I’ve been gossiped about, had rumours spread about me and basically been told I use my blog to promote myself above my station. It did really upset me but then I thought SO WHAT?! The point of our blogs is to get what we are thinking about across and I’m with you I don’t think any of us should ever shut up. Especially you as then my RSS feed would be empty!

    • vegemitevix

      Absolutely Pippa. What’s more, I’m not sure I know how to shut up!

  • http://www.lifeonplanetbaby.com/ Jane

    Brilliant, Vix! I could have written this post about that SMH article, almost word for word. It was so frustrating to read and then so many of the comments were vile. Then I read Kirsty’s posts and like you, shed tears. her writing was visceral and deeply affecting. I’ll be thinking about them for days. Lucky us for knowing her, don’t you think? J x

    • vegemitevix

      I think the article was a cheap shot Jane. I know enough about journalism to know that he probably had to write something about blogging given the launch of The Remarkables, and he decided to just scribble down sarcastic criticism. One issue I noticed he failed to address was how many daddy or male non-daddy bloggers also have advertising and partner promotions on their blogs! We are indeed very fortunate to know Kirsty, I found her posts so moving they have literally even kept me awake at night. Thanks for commenting Jane! X

      • http://twitter.com/headspaceblog Katriina

        I have to say that I wasn’t terribly angry at the article itself. It was not very well written, and the content was yawningly predictable. The comments were just awful, though. Truly nasty, some of them. I can’t help thinking that the article was deliberately provocative. It paid lip-service to the fact that many excellent writers have, for months or years, made absolutely no money out of blogging, but then went on to make vague but provocative references to the money that these bloggers possibly maybe perhaps could be making. The bottom line is that no one who isn’t a kick-arse writer makes money out of blogging. All power to people with talent who can turn that talent into income. As for all those kick-arse writers who don’t make a cent out of blogging, all power to you too, for doing something that you love and entertaining/moving your audience at the same time.

        • vegemitevix

          It’s just that those who are terribly talented make it look easy, I suspect. Bloggers like Mrs Woog and Eden Riley almost never run out of blog material, and never seem to feel discouraged. When I grow up to be a big adult blogger, I want to be like them!

        • http://www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com Russell V J Ward

          I have to agree with Katriina here. I’ve been reading the SMH for the past 6 years and they regularly put up very basic and provocative articles to drive the comments. Having followed these articles, many of the commentators are deliberately nasty to provoke more outrage themselves. I’d take a lot of it with a pinch of salt. The key is to never read the comments on the SMH unless you want your mood to change for the worse. At least, that’s what I’ve learned over the years.

          • vegemitevix

            Huh! I didn’t know this about the SMH Russell. What a shame and a huge deterioration in quality. I remember reading it on sunny Sunday afternoons (about 20 yrs ago ;) in Sydney and absolutely loving it.

          • http://www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com Russell V J Ward

            I think the Daily Telegraph is worse but they’ve all got pretty bad in recent years.

          • vegemitevix

            Huh! I didn’t know this about the SMH Russell. What a shame and a huge deterioration in quality. I remember reading it on sunny Sunday afternoons (about 20 yrs ago ;) in Sydney and absolutely loving it.

          • vegemitevix

            Huh! I didn’t know this about the SMH Russell. What a shame and a huge deterioration in quality. I remember reading it on sunny Sunday afternoons (about 20 yrs ago ;) in Sydney and absolutely loving it.

          • vegemitevix

            Huh! I didn’t know this about the SMH Russell. What a shame and a huge deterioration in quality. I remember reading it on sunny Sunday afternoons (about 20 yrs ago ;) in Sydney and absolutely loving it.

          • vegemitevix

            Huh! I didn’t know this about the SMH Russell. What a shame and a huge deterioration in quality. I remember reading it on sunny Sunday afternoons (about 20 yrs ago ;) in Sydney and absolutely loving it.

  • ChaoticallyMe

    I take offense at any article lumping an entire demographic under one all encompassing title (“Mummy Bloggers”…meh!), let alone a derogatory one!

    I’d add one more to your list of amazing women blogging their heart’s out and who happen to also be Mum’s. Lori from Random Ramblings of a SAHM. Heck her blog title even has “Mum” in it but she’s so much more than just a sad, bored Mum waffling away on her keyboard. There are so many more amazing women out there getting down and dirty, telling their stories, I’d be here all day listing them off.

    I love your comparison to women in an age gone by sitting around a fire sharing their stories with one another. Human’s are social creatures and part of that is decompressing and sharing your experiences with one another. As a society we have moved further and further away from any real sense of community, so an opportunity to bond with other women on a daily basis just doesn’t exist. Most of us now live completely separate lives along side one another and that can get lonely. For a lot of us venting on our blog is the most readily available way to relieve the pressure.

    To criticize these women and to tell them they are just lazy and need to get a job is ridiculous. Does working a full time job negate the need to unwind by telling someone (anyone) what a horror your 11-year-old has been today and mulling over whether you made the right call in how you disciplined them? I think not.

    Wonderful post as always :)

    • vegemitevix

      I feel the same way about a one-size-fits-all term like ‘mummy blogging’. There are so many different voices out there, all unique. Absolutely agree with your addition of Lori’s blog. She is another talented writer and her story affected me deeply when I heard it a few years ago now. There are so many talented writers out there. Why shouldn’t they seek advertising to support their writing? I also agree that blogging can bring communities together across distance or time zones. Look how many women have been able to identify with the loss of the children in Doha and how they have literally reached out across the world to show their love and support, via Kirsty’s blog.

    • http://www.wanderlustlust.com/ Wanderlust

      Lori is beautiful and amazing.

  • uniquenique01

    Mmmm personally I am very happy that there are so many intelligent and informative bloggers who give the real story of how they feel about or are affected by real things that happen to them be that the misbehaving little one or a natural or manmade disaster – these are geniune and heartfelt and always strike a chord with real people and on many occassions have brought communities together to help and support each other and raised awareness for things so often just swept under the rug. I say more strength to you and please don’t ever shut up any of you.

    • vegemitevix

      Thank you! You are right of course. Since when was mothering not a real job anyway? What happened to ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world’? Feel so grateful that I am apart of this wonderful community and that I am free to share my voice. And thank you for commenting! Vix x

  • Mammywoo

    Well said.

    • vegemitevix

      Thank you Mammywoo. The difference between the perception of dozey ‘mummy bloggers’ and the reality of this wonderful body of work was just too great to gloss over.

  • MidlifeSinglemum

    Sounds like features writers are feeling threatened. I used to devour the newspaper everyday. Now I read the headlines and real news stories only. For entertainment I read a number of blogs. Far more useful to me as I can choose the ones that are relevant to my interests.

    • vegemitevix

      I agree and have noticed that my news reading habits have likewise changed. I know read NZ news website – Stuff, the BBC and then a variety of specialist blogs (and Facebook pages) for my daily news fix. I no longer buy a newspaper.

  • http://bloggertropolis.blogspot.com/ Steve

    Most journalists sell their soul when they accept a pay-cheque. Most bloggers write for free, without pay, simply because they want to and have something to say. Some write because they have to. Some write at great risk to themselves because they need to. I know which is the more nobler.

    • http://www.wanderlustlust.com/ Wanderlust

      I’m guessing that when some of those bloggers do start making money and getting large audiences, while doing what they love and working from home, some journos might be a wee bit jealous.

      • vegemitevix

        Some are already and some of us are still cranking out posts and working damn hard at being successful.

    • vegemitevix

      Beautifully put Steve. Thank you. Xx

  • http://www.wanderlustlust.com/ Wanderlust

    Excellent post, Vix. This is one of the reasons I was so afraid to go to the media. I had read this article and saw the potential of negative media spin. I’m grateful the comment feature appears to be disabled on the news site that ran the story on my ex.

    Thanks for including Wanderlust in your mentions above. I’m humbled. x

  • http://bigwordsblog.blogspot.com bigwords

    I am a journo and a blogger and have made money doing both. They are very different, but they both serve a purpose to tell a story. All the Mummy Blogger shit going down in Australia at the moment bores me. It’s the same people stirring up the same crap. BORING! I wish people would put more energy into doing good things. Thanks for the mention honey, I am really lucky to have friends like you – the best part of it all x

    • vegemitevix

      Love the way you and fellow bloggers have put together a brilliant book about parenting with all profits going to charitable. Can you comment back and link it here please so others can see how excellent it is! Thanks. A very real example of bloggers not just writing it but doing something!!

  • catebolt

    Nothing much has changed. I don’t suspect it will for a very long time. At least fortunately there are a growing number of people standing up and making noise about it.

  • http://twitter.com/tinysavages Carli | Tiny Savages

    Great post, and wonderful to see you point out all the brilliant female voices out there. Such a shame mainstream media can’t celebrate that.

  • http://twitter.com/emmakaufmann emmakaufmann

    Well said Vix! There are many intelligent and powerful voices out there that can’t and should not be quashed.

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  • vegemitevix

    Huh! I didn’t know this about the SMH Russell. What a shame and a huge deterioration in quality. I remember reading it on sunny Sunday afternoons (about 20 yrs ago ;) in Sydney and absolutely loving it.

  • http://www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com Russell V J Ward

    I think the Daily Telegraph is worse but they’ve all got pretty bad in recent years.

  • http://www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com Russell V J Ward

    I think the Daily Telegraph is worse but they’ve all got pretty bad in recent years.